Actuarial Science now offered as major

Victoria University now offers Actuarial Science, bringing together statistical and financial studies and introducing students to the industry.


Climate change and natural disasters, accident and illness, the stock market and investments — uncertainty is a part of life. Now Victoria University of Wellington is offering a programme that helps individuals, businesses and government to plan for unknown risks.

Actuarial Science deals with the measurement and management of risk and uncertainty, and from its origins 200 years ago in life insurance, it is now a fast growing field.

Victoria is the first university in New Zealand to offer this subject as a major. From this year, Victoria offers a course in Actuarial Science, bringing together the statistical and financial studies that underpin it and introducing students to the industry.

The programme is an innovative partnership between the Faculty of Science and Victoria Business School.

Growing demand for actuarial skills

"We live in a world in which we are increasingly conscious of risk, whether from natural hazards such as earthquakes and storms, personal factors relating to health, disease and lifestyle, or uncertainty in financial markets, investments and asset management," says Dr Peter Donelan, Head of the School of Mathematics and Statistics at Victoria University.

"There is growing demand for actuarial skills across a diverse range of activities such as management consultancy, investment, finance and stockbroking as well as in government, education, health and software development."

Dr Donelan says that in the past gaining qualification as an actuary has been a lengthy process. "The new major provides a stepping stone into the profession by helping students develop the skills and knowledge that will make access to the profession more straightforward".

Professor Bob Buckle, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Commerce, says the programme is the result of extensive industry input. "The New Zealand Society of Actuaries and individuals in the industry have been generous in giving their time and expertise to help shape the programme.

"This initiative has been made possible by the fruitful collaboration and sharing of knowledge between staff at Victoria Business School and the Faculty of Science who will share in its delivery."

Industry liaison and scholarships

Industry liaison is crucial to the success of the programme, and is an integral feature of how it has been set up. For example, a scholarship has been established by Cigna Life Insurance NZ Ltd to encourage students at Victoria into the actuarial profession and to provide workplace experience.

"One of the best things about the programme is the opportunities it provides for students to connect with leading members of the profession and develop links with potential employers," says Dr Donelan.

"Students in the programme will hear guest lectures from a variety of speakers on latest developments in the field, professional aspects of being an actuary, the regulatory enviroment and so on. They will also get to experience first hand the variety and challenges in being an actuary.”

To raise awareness of the role and value of the profession and the opportunities the new programme offers, Victoria is sending information to schools around the country.

Students are able to major in either the Bachelor of Science (BSc) or a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) degrees.

pdf360KBDownload the Actuarial Science brochure.